England cricketer and World Cup winner Moeen Ali is set to welcome to Birmingham a teenage touring party from one of South Africa’s most deprived communities.
He will meet up with the 14-year-olds from Cape Town as they play a match at Moseley Ashfield, the star’s ‘home ground’ when he was their age.
“This trip has the potential to change these kids’ lives forever, and Moeen was keen to be part of that,” said Rob Green, Ashfield’s youth manager.
“As a Worcestershire all-rounder who started his career at Warwickshire he is really looking forward to being there – it should be a great occasion.”
The youngsters belong to Fish Rite Hanover Park Cricket Club from the Cape Flats, a “dumping ground” of the former apartheid regime as black and coloured South Africans were forcibly removed to the margins.
Even now the area is riddled with poverty and crime.
The party fly into the Midlands on August 1.
Their itinerary takes in the third day of the England v Australia Test at Edgbaston followed by youth matches against Harborne on August 4, Ombersley on the 5th, Moseley Ashfield, the 6th, and Ombersley again on the 8th.
They will watch a Worcestershire v Australia one day game, courtesy of the county, do some sightseeing, attend a football match, enjoy further fixtures in Devon and the London area, before flying home on August 18.
The tour is seen as a learning curve for the squad allowing them to experience different cultures.
Fish Rite Hanover Park Cricket Club chairperson Ashraf Allie commented: “This is a group of young cricketers who face immense social and economic challenges, peer pressure and being poor. But, thanks to their determination, coupled with the tenacity and hard work of the club’s leadership, we have managed to pull off something great with the help of some of our partners, patrons and benefactors. It was not easy and was really challenging to come this far.
“What would for many be an almost routine venture is a once in a lifetime experience for 14 young people and even for our coaches who not long ago were sitting idle at home with no work, yet they have skills and abilities they have gained over the years and it was untapped. We have more to offer, however we lack the necessary funding and resources.
“There is no better investment than to help change someone’s life for the better and in this way restore a little bit of pride back in their shattered community. This is priceless.”
The visit has been made possible through the club’s sponsor, Robert Zive, head of retail brand, Fish Rite, entrepreneur Punit Balan, Islamic Relief South Africa and Western Province Cricket Association, under the leadership of Nabeal Dien.
A wide range of community empowerment organisations are at work in the Cape Flats intent on combating drugs, gang violence and health issues.
“Each player and the coaches has a story to tell about where they live, the conditions they endure daily, and their aspirations,” added Mr Allie.